What baby items do you really need for a newborn?
I’ve got a whole slew of friends becoming new moms this year, and some of them have asked me what baby items I needed/didn’t need when Lincoln finally got here. You see so many lists during pregnancy and your brain immediately goes into “I Need All of The Things” mode. Or, like me, you looked at some of it and said, “Pfshh, I don’t need that.” And then you’re sending the husband to Target for it three days post-baby because, turns out, yeah, you really do.
So I’m making some lists here, partly for my new mom friends to peruse, and partly for me to remember when Baby T. #2 comes along. Because now I know what I need to make that first newborn week a lot easier.
Our little guy at a couple weeks old, wrapped in his Aden & Anais swaddler.
Things I Did Not Need:
All the clothes (Especially baby pants. Why, why, all the pants?)
Baby toys (Not until about 4 months. Until then I printed flash cards to display around his crib and playmate to give him something look at.)
Fancy video monitor
Special swaddlers (The velcro ones that are super easy- Lincoln hated them and could get out no problem.)
Multiple baby towels
All the diaper creams, lotions, and soaps
Blankets (Definitely didn’t need all the ones I received. Lincoln is almost two and a half and has only ever used two of his many blankets.)
Bulb syringe (Did you know there’s no way to clean out those things?! So gross.)
The little blue tub made bath time a breeze for the first six months.
Things I DID Need:
Bottle brush cleaner and large mixing bowl: Washing out baby bottles a zillion times a day is the worst. Just get the bottle brush cleaner and make your life better. When we figured out our kitchen counter was basically a perpetual wash station, we found the easiest way was to just keep a big bowl out filled with bottles, nipples, and pacifiers soaking in hot, soapy water. The next time we needed to make a trip to the kitchen, we dumped the water, rinsed, and started over with a new bowl of soapy water. It was perfect and easy.
Car seat: Obviously. We LOVED our Chicco infant seat. We got a base for each of our cars and it made getting in and out of either car so easy. It was an easy install, too, which is super important.
Baby swing: We knew this was going to be on our list. I’ve witnessed the power of the swing many times over the years. We borrowed our friends’ mamaroo and it worked wonders on Lincoln in the early months. Half his “night” was spent in that swing next to Chris while I slept in my bed (blessedly alone).
Pack n Play bassinet: Lincoln went to his crib at seven weeks, but until then we used our mamaroo pack n play as his bassinet. It comes with a removable top bassinet/changing pad combo. That stayed next to our bed for those first couple of months.
Baby bathtub: We got the cheapest one and it was worth it.
Burp cloths/prefolds: Oh man, I love prefolds. I originally bought them to use inside cloth diaper covers, but I accidentally bought them too big. We ended up using them on his changing pad to keep his bum off the actual liner. If he made a mess, we just tossed the prefold in the laundry instead of changing the whole cover. And these went everywhere with us to clean up messes.
Rocking chair: I knew I needed a comfy one of these. I was right. Still love that thing.
Something to watch at night: I had saved Nashville to start watching during late night nursing sessions, and I think it saved my sanity. I would set up my laptop on the rocking chair’s ottoman and get super comfy with Lincoln and watch about four episodes a night. Have a fun show prepared.
Lots of baby sleepers: We never really dressed Lincoln in anything but sleepers for about two months. He was just a little too big for newborn clothes anyway, so those got put away fast, and he was born just as winter was settling in, so we needed him warm and cozy all the time. Try to find the zippered ones. Buttons are the worst. Even better, Target has inverted zipper sleepers which would be great for newborns- they unzip from the bottom so you don’t have to pull down the whole thing to change a diaper.
Angelcare monitor: This. This was the best thing we bought, and I kind of had to convince Chris we needed it. All I can say is that the night Lincoln was born, even though we were in the hospital still, I didn’t sleep at all. I kept staring at him, thinking that if I stopped watching him, he might stop breathing. (I may have had a very high case of postpartum anxiety in the weeks after his birth.) I insisted we get the Angelcare monitor and I have absolutely no regrets. The peace of mind it brought me was unbelievable. I really don’t think I would have slept peacefully ever again without it.
NoseFrida: Have you seen these things? They’re really gross. But they work amazingly! Those bulb syringes the hospital sends home with you are trash. Plus, they’re impossible to sanitize. The second I realized that there was no way to clean it out, that blue bulb was in the trash. The NoseFrida suctions out so much more, and all the pieces are easy to clean.
Good fingernail clippers: Seriously. It is already so freaking hard to clip a newborn’s fingernails. And the first time you clip your baby’s skin is the worst moment of your life. (I still remember doing it to Lincoln– the guilt is so strong!) We had a really crummy set of clippers that I think came from one of those baby registry gift bags. We invested in a better set and found the process much easier after that.
Hyland’s teething tablets: These are not sold anymore, which is seriously a bummer. These tablets, an amber necklace, and copaiba essential oil got us through two years of teething pretty easily. Either we got really lucky that teething never really bothered L, or we found the magic trifecta of teething power.
I was skeptical when my husband wanted to get this Mamaroo rocker. Lincoln loved it, and it bought me many hours of sleep in the evenings as he rocked while Chris worked.
There were plenty of products I saw along the way and just shook my head at. Or took back when I was gifted them because I figured I’d never use them. (Seriously. I’m pretty sure I re-bought the same set of six Medela bottles that I’d returned to Target a month before L made his appearance.) These next items are the things I always tell new mamas about now when someone asks what I needed that I wasn’t prepared for.
Things I thought I didn’t need, but really did:
Extra pump parts: I started pumping towards the end of the week that Lincoln was born. (I should have started sooner, but that’s a different story.) We had gone to the breastfeeding support class a couple times and the biggest thing I was told was to pump after every feeding. So I did. And then I felt like my entire life was feeding a baby and washing pump parts. All day long. I finally decided enough was enough and ordered two more sets online and had them delivered to Target for me, which Chris then picked up the next day. That made things a LOT better. What made things even better than that was a third visit to the breastfeeding support class, when I was lamenting all the pump part washing to one of the nurses, and she told me I didn’t have to wash them every single time! (Since milk is good for six hours at room temp, she said I could use the same pump parts sans washing for that amount of time, then switch to a clean pair.) Seriously, my life changed at that moment.
More Bottles: I figured we needed about four bottles max. One, we weren’t planning to bottle feed for a long time, and two, it’s not like he would need more than one or two per day when we did. Yeah. When I started pumping, I went through two at each stinking session. One had to go in the fridge with the new milk because you’re not supposed to mix cold and warm breastmilk. So really I was using around 12 bottles a day, unless I wanted to be constantly mixing bottles in the fridge once the milk was cold. (I did not want to do this, there was already enough to do.) Back to Target to pick up the same bottles we’d returned because we had “too many” from our baby shower.
Nursing tanks: This was one of those things I figured I definitely did not need. I had nursing bras, I’d just wear my regular shirts and use those and life would be easy peasy. No. I was very wrong. Breastfeeding was going on ALL THE TIME. Pulling up my shirt, cradling a newborn, AND trying to keep the padded flap of my bra down under his cheek so he could effectively nurse was not cool. I think I lasted three days like this, before I was back on Target.com, looking up which stores had the most nursing tanks in stock, putting them on hold, and yes, sending Chris out again to pick them up. SO much easier than dealing with a bra and a shirt, and I didn’t have to expose my tummy in case someone was in the room while I was nursing. I literally wore these all the time, every day, for a month. There was a point where I worried that I would never wear any other kind of shirts again. They are that awesome.
Breast Friend Nursing pillow: Okay, so I actually didn’t even know about this one at the time. I thought everyone used a boppy to nurse. But boppy’s really are terrible for nursing a newborn; these are amazing. I am extremely thankful to my friend Jenafer, who, after hearing that I was going to drag myself out for yet another Target trip to buy one, returned to our house at 9pm after putting her own kids to bed, to gift me hers. Game changer for breastfeeding. Seriously, the boppy served us for about three weeks of Lincoln tummy time and that’s all we ever used it for. Borrow one from a friend when you need it, but get a breast friend pillow.
Swaddle blankets: We did buy a bunch of these, and I had regretted it because I thought we would never need them. False. Lincoln required a good swaddle to sleep well for the first 3-4 months, and Chris had been taught at the hospital to use two for a quality swaddle. Lincoln wet through his diaper, pjs, and both blankets every single night, so we were going through four blankets a day. Luckily we had 4 Aden and Anais blankets and 8 Target Circo blankets, so we didn’t feel at a swaddler loss. We added another 4 Aden and Anais around month two because we found an orange fox set that we couldn’t pass up on. Note: these blankets became obsolete to us around month 4 when he started rolling to sleep on his tummy. I packed most of them up, keeping only three out to use to cover him in the car for long trips.
Pacifiers: Sigh. We weren’t going to do them. Neither of us wanted to have to break a toddler of a pacifier habit two years later. But turns out Lincoln had other plans. He wanted to comfort suck all. the. time. After long nights of a screaming baby who wouldn’t go back to sleep, we finally caved and got him some MAM newborn pacifiers. And they changed all of our lives.
I highly recommend having a newborn in winter. Those long nights are so cozy
Oh, man. Re-reading all this is getting me all excited about Baby T #2! (#notpregnantyet) Even more exciting–I don’t have to spend money on most of this stuff again since we kept everything after Lincoln. I just need to gather things back from friends who’ve borrowed for their own babies. I do need to buy a new Angel Care monitor, though; Chris bought ours second hand on Craigslist and it was several years old at that point. They’ve since come out with some newer models that look interesting. And I’m really interested in trying out a new pump this time around. I had the Medela Pump in Style because that’s what insurance covered, but I always felt I should have gotten more milk. I’m really interested in that new Annabella pump that’s supposed to mimic an actual baby’s sucking motion, and I’m crossing my fingers that it will be for sale by the time #2 is born. 🙂